Making healthy lifestyle choices improves not just your fertility but your overall health. No surprise there. Regular exercise, moderate alcohol use, avoiding tobacco, and maintaining a healthy weight for your body size all contribute to good health and good sperm production.
However, it is possible for you to practice healthy habits and still have a below average sperm count. Fortunately, there are ways to improve sperm health by focusing on your diet. Below are some of the vitamins and minerals that can help boost male fertility. You can get these through a variety of foods, by taking nutritional supplements, or a combination of the two.
- Folate. Getting plenty of fruits and vegetables is a must, and folate is especially important to sperm health. So be sure to eat folate-rich foods such as leafy greens, beans, citrus fruits, and whole grains.
- Vitamin C. Studies have linked Vitamin C to semen quality. But the body can’t produce or store Vitamin C, so it needs to be consumed regularly. Taking a 1,000-mg supplement daily is one way to do this. Other excellent sources of Vitamin C include broccoli, kale, strawberries, tomatoes, and green and red peppers.
- Vitamin E. Studies have shown Vitamin E may improve male fertility by boosting sperm motility or movement. A strong antioxidant, it’s found in spinach, broccoli, nuts, and vegetable oils.
- Vitamin D. A lack of Vitamin D may cause low testosterone levels, which can affect fertility. Along with daily supplements, good sources of Vitamin D include salmon, tuna, and other fatty fish, orange juice, cheese, and eggs.
- Zinc. This essential mineral helps with many body processes including fertility. Studies have connected a lack of zinc with lowered testosterone, which can contribute to lower sperm quality. Zinc can’t be stored in the body, so you need to make sure you’re getting enough. Foods high in zinc include shellfish, meat, nuts, lentils, beans, and dark chocolate.
- L-carnitine. This amino acid is found in red meats and dairy and has been shown to improve sperm motility.
- L-arginine. Found in nuts, eggs, fish, poultry, and red meat, L-arginine is an amino acid that helps oxygen spread throughout your arteries. For this reason, some studies have found it helpful with erectile dysfunction as well as overall fertility health.
While consuming the vitamins and minerals listed above can improve your health, it’s important to remember that the average sperm life cycle is between 46 and 76 days. That means that lifestyle changes you make today will take about two months to show up in a semen analysis, so don’t expect overnight results.